Loss drops Northern Knights to third
Hopes of a home Twenty20 final for the Northern Knights took a Big Bash at the weekend.
The hosts, without injured captain Scott Styris, went down to the Auckland Aces by 28 runs at Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval today to drop to third spot on the HRV Cup table.
In pursuit of Auckland 's 180-5, the SkyCity Knights finished well short at 152-6.
With the competition's other title contenders Otago and Wellington each scoring comfortable victories today, the Knights (20 points from five wins and three losses) now trail Otago by four points with just two matches left in their round-robin play, while Otago also have a match in hand.
Wellington and Northern share second with Wellington having a superior net run rate, while defending champs Auckland stayed alive with the win pushing them up to 12 points from seven outings.
The top side at the end of the regular season gets an automatic berth to host the final while the second-placed side hosts the play-off encounter for the other final spot.
Styris injured his hamstring playing in the Australian domestic Twenty20 Big Bash League competition for Hobart last night. He stayed in Tasmania for treatment, with the Knights hopeful the former Black Cap would recover to play in Hamilton on Friday night against Canterbury.
Knights import Steven Croft top-scored in the chase with 48 off 43 balls, but the hosts were always behind the asking rate.
Auckland's tally was spearheaded by a typically bold innings from Colin de Grndhomme, who made his highest HRV Cup score by blasting an unbeaten 66 off only 30 balls. The burly right-hander bludgeoned two sixes and eight fours against a home attack led by Brent Arnel, who took 2-32 off four overs.
Another unwanted T20 international, Kyle Mills, led the Auckland bowling with 2-19 off his four overs while Michael Bates also excelled in taking 3-19 from his full complement.
Earlier, Knights stand-in captain James Marshall won the toss and chose to bowl with doubts over the weather.
Brent Arnel made the breakthrough in the second over when Lou Vincent drove straight to the hands of Corey Anderson at cover after hitting the previous delivery over the same fielder to the boundary.
The hosts missed the opportunity to remove fellow opener Phil Mustard the next ball when Ish Sodhi couldn't hit the stumps from mid-on when Mustard was sent back by his captain Gareth Hopkins.
The Knights again came close to a double blow when Anderson trapped Mustard lbw and the forced new batsman Anaru Kitchen into a leading edge the next ball which fell agonisingly short of Daryl Mitchell at extra-cover.
The big talking point of Auckalnd's innings came when Kitchen lofted left-arm spinner Anton Devcich to long off, where Anderson produced a magnificent diving catch sprawling forward.
There appeared to be uncertainty, however, of whether he got his hands under the ball, but after a consultation with Anderson from umpires Phil Jones and Barry Frost, Kitchen was sent packing, sparking a few words from Auckland coach Paul Strang in the direction of his opposite Grant Bradburn.
That brought de Grandhomme to the wicket, and the former Black Caps limited-overs player produced the kind of knock that initially brought him to the attention of the national selectors.
He and skipper Hopkins combined for a record fourth wicket stand for Auckland against Northern in T20s worth 80 off 41 balls, with Hopkins making 57 off 45 deliveries.
L Vincent c CJ Anderson b BJ Arnel 10
P Mustard lbw b CJ Anderson 13
GJ Hopkins c BS Wilson b BE Scott 57
AK Kitchen c CJ Anderson b AP Devcich 27
C de Grandhomme not out 66
Craig Cachopa lbw b BJ Arnel 2
D Grobbelaar not out 0
Extras (lb 0, wd 5, nb 0) 5
Total (for 5 wickets, 20.0 overs) 180
Fall: 1-17 (L Vincent, 1.5), 2-37 (P Mustard, 5.3), 3-77 (AK Kitchen, 11.2), 4-157 (GJ Hopkins, 18.1), 5-180 (Craig Cachopa, 19.5) Bowling: JJ Boult 3-0-26-0, BJ Arnel 4-0-32-2 (2w), BE Scott 4-0-38-1 (2w), CJ Anderson 3-0-24-1 (1w), IS Sodhi 3-0-33-0, AP Devcich 3-0-27-1.
AP Devcich lbw b MD Bates 1
BS Wilson b Bhupinder Singh 39
JAH Marshall c D Grobbelaar b KD Mills 12
SJ Croft c Bhupinder Singh b KD Mills 48
JS Foster c GJ Hopkins b MD Bates 25
BE Scott c Craig Cachopa b MD Bates 5
DJ Mitchell not out 10
Extras (b 4, lb 1, wd 6, nb 1) 12
Total (for 6 wickets, 20.0 overs) 152
Fall: 1-2 (AP Devcich, 1.1), 2-28 (JAH Marshall, 4.2), 3-106 (BS Wilson, 14.3), 4-137 (JS Foster, 17.5), 5-139 (SJ Croft, 18.2), 6-152 (BE Scott, 19.6) Bowling: KD Mills 4-0-19-2 (1w), MD Bates 4-0-19-3, D Grobbelaar 3-0-31-0 (1w), MR Quinn 3-0-33-0 (3w), Bhupinder Singh 4-0-22-1 (1w), AK Kitchen 2-0-23-0 (1nb).